Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli -The Write Reads Ultimate Blog Tour

Thank you to the Write Reads for allowing me to take part in the book tour for Kate in Waiting. This book is available now.

What the book is about:

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.

[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST]

Kate Garfield
Anderson Walker

Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent. Examples:

Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient.
Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment.
Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.

Enter Stage Left: Matt Olsson

He is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship…

About the author:

Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.

Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place. (taken from Amazon)

I’m going to start this review by completely dating myself: do you remember that Brandon Frasier movie, Bedazzled? In it, Elizabeth Hurley plays the devil to Brandon Frasier’s beatdown, desperate character. He makes a deal to have his life changed “for the better”; after a certain number of wishes, he loses his soul. It’s cute and funny, with an upbeat ending. It’s a fluffy comedy. Midnight Library felt very similar, minus the comedy (and the devil). It was a fine book with an upbeat ending, but ultimately didn’t really do more for me than pass the time pleasantly.

While there are no graphic details in Midnight Library, I feel that I need to let readers know that both suicide and self-harm are mentioned throughout. I personally would have really struggled with the subject matter if it were handled differently, or if I was at a different point mentally than I am currently. I feel a warning is appropriate, in this case.

Nora starts the book with everything in her life falling apart. She feels invisible, desperate, and lonely. After an attempt to end her pain, she ends up in the Midnight Library, sort of a stand-in for Limbo. There are shelves and shelves of books in which her life has gone differently based on her choices. Nora is able to choose them and live the stories, with the caveat that when she is unhappy, she will return to the Library.

Nora begins erasing regrets by choosing differently. Of course, she sees both positive and negative ramifications of that. She is likable and easy to relate to. There isn’t anything about Midnight Library that wasn’t likeable, it was just very surface-level. I was hoping for a deeper, more meaningful read, I suppose. I follow the author on Twitter and am often touched by his tweets. Some of them are very profound. I think that ultimately raised my expectations of this book to a ridiculous level. How odd to think that an author’s social media writing is so good that I didn’t love his book.

I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews for this book, leading me to believe that it just wasn’t the right time for me to really appreciate it. That happens sometimes, where it’s the right book but the wrong time. That’s not to say it was a bad book. It was sweet and encouraging. It just ended up being a “like” book instead of one I loved.

I would recommend Midnight Library to readers who want a book that finds happiness and gratitude in the life we’re given.

My Favorite Reads of 2020

Well, this has been an… interesting year. If you can name it, chances are it’s happened. I’ve learned a lot about the strength many of my acquaintances possess. I truly wish they hadn’t needed to use so much strength and determination to make it through the year, but if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak. Anyway, I digress.

While the year has been all kinds of horrible for most, the books I’ve been fortunate to read were amazing. I rounded up my favorites but there is absolutely no way I can rank them in order from one to ten. Instead, they’re here with zero rhyme or reason, just a huge amount of appreciation. Without further rambling, here are my top ten 2020 reads:

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

This book was absolutely brilliant. I went into it with ridiculously high hopes, and they were more than fulfilled. There was a tension throughout that had me riveted, and Turton’s fantastic writing style kept me hooked from start to finish. Review

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst

Holy guacamole, this book is awesome! My last book of the year (I might finish the sequel in time, but that’s a big might); I totally went out with a bang. The Queen of Blood had me riveted from start to finish. I should apologize probably to the family for all the things I didn’t get done while I was ignoring the real world to read this. Review

The Ventifact Colossus by Dorian Hart

This was a skillful and unique twist on questing fantasy. I loved all of the characters, each of which brought their own struggles and strengths to the group. This felt like a wonderful throwback to the type of book that spawned my love of the fantasy genre. The sequel was equally fantastic, and you can find my reviews for both books here: The Ventifact Colossus and The Crosser’s Maze.

Knight’s Ransom by Jeff Wheeler

I truly loved Knight’s Ransom. It had an Arthurian feel to it that I found engrossing. While larger things are going on in the world, the book followed mainly one man and focused on his character growth. There was no Big Bad poised to destroy life as everyone knows it, but the world still felt big, and the personal stakes felt just as important. Review

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn

This book was just flat-out fun. Ardor Benn, ruse artist extraordinaire, was an entertaining character, and his partners in crime were just as great. I particularly loved the heists they planned since they never ever worked out as expected. Review

Hollow Road Dan Fitzgerald

Hollow Road was extremely good. Its sequel, The Archive, made me tear up. That doesn’t happen often at all. This is an incredible series and I am dying to continue it. My review for Hollow Road can be found here. My review for The Archive can be found here.

The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

Both this book and its sequel, Dead Man in a Ditch, were phenomenal. Gritty detective novel meets fantasy in this series and works extremely well. I loved the main character, Fetch Phillips, who is drowning in both regret and alcohol. His narrative voice was wonderful and I can’t wait for the next installment in the series. Review

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

If not for The Write Read Blog Tour that I took part in, this book wouldn’t have been on my radar. That would have been a shame, because it was so enjoyable. It was a bit like the movie Knives Out sans cable knit sweaters. I really liked going along with the main character as she tried to solve the mysteries presented to her. Review

Feathertide by Beth Cartwright

Feathertide was gorgeous. I really could stop there. The prose sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. It’s a masterpiece and I can’t think of a single thing I didn’t love about it. Review

How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It by K.J. Parker

This book was flat-out fantastic! It was the perfect combination of witty and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this one. I loved it so much! Review

So, there you have it. This was an extremely difficult list to narrow down. Have you read any of these books? Thoughts? Here’s to many more wonderful books in 2021!

One? by Jennifer L. Cahill

Image result for one by jennifer cahill

                   It’s London in the mid-nineties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi.
Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual. Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At twenty-eight she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming. Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness. Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future. One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

After reading the blurb about One?, I was expecting a bit of a FRIENDS vibe. Instead, it felt a bit more like the show Sex and the City. There is a difference, and it does come into play in my review, so please bear with me.

This book felt like gossip between friends, which is the feeling I got from the (maybe one) episode of Sex and the City that I’ve seen. It seemed sort of bubbly, for lack of a better term. It’s about four roommates as they navigate life. There’s Zara, the new girl; Penelope, who’s a bit of a partier; Gerry, who’s supposed to be hot stuff; and Charlie, a musician.

The theme of the book is relationships. It focuses on the relationships the roommates have with each other, as well as those they have with others. It’s not quite my bag, but I can absolutely see the appeal of this book to those whose taste lean toward the sweet and romantic.

My biggest pet peeve with this book happens to be the punctuation. Commas were often used in place of periods, which frustrated me. There was also a liberal smattering of exclamation points. I think an editor could easily help with that, but it was irritating.

My end verdict is that if light romantic contemporary fiction is a genre you gravitate to, you’ll enjoy this book.

                                                              About the Author

Jennifer was born in Dublin in Ireland and was educated at University College Dublin. She honed both her ability to write, and her love of writing, in UCD while studying Spanish, which was one half of her International Commerce degree. She went on to Business School in Dublin and moved to London after graduating, and life has never been quite the same for her since. When she is not writing she works with individuals and blue-chip clients to help them navigate and master change. She spent ten lovely years living in Clapham and now lives in Notting Hill in West London.

                                              About the author, in her own words:

I write contemporary fiction and try to capture the essence of a place and time in my books. Above all, my aim is to make you laugh, and hopefully learn a little, as you recognise yourself, your friends and your exes in my books. I love hearing from my readers, and you can contact me via my website, or @JLCAuthor on Twitter.